Other Names for this Disease
- Autoimmune chronic hepatitis
Your QuestionI have autoimmune hepatitis. Can you provide me with new information about this condition?
We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.
Questions on this page
- What is autoimmune hepatitis?
- Are there different types of autoimmune hepatitis?
- What symptoms are associated with autoimmune hepatitis?
- What causes autoimmune hepatitis?
- How is autoimmune hepatitis diagnosed?
- How might autoimmune hepatitis be treated?
- Who can I contact to learn more about autoimmune hepatitis?
Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis range from mild to severe. Fatigue is probably the most common symptom of autoimmune hepatitis. Other symptoms include:
- an enlarged liver
- skin rashes
- joint pain
- abdominal discomfort
- spider angiomas, or abnormal blood vessels, on the skin
- loss of appetite
- dark urine
- pale or gray-colored stools
The primary treatment is medicine to suppress, or slow down, an overactive immune system. Prednisone or other corticosteroids help reduce the inflammation. Azathioprine and mercaptopurine are drugs used to treat other autoimmune disorders, which have shown to help patients with autoimmune hepatitis as well.
In about seven out of 10 people, the disease goes into remission within 3 years of starting treatment. Remission occurs when symptoms disappear and lab tests show improvement in liver function. Some people can eventually stop treatment, although many will see the disease return. People who stop treatment must carefully monitor their condition and promptly report any new symptoms to their doctor. Treatment with low doses of prednisone or azathioprine may be necessary on and off for years, if not for life.
People who do not respond to standard immune therapy or who have severe side effects may benefit from other immunosuppressive agents such as mycophenylate mofetil, cyclosporine, or tacrolimus. People who progress to end-stage liver disease—also called liver failure—or cirrhosis may need a liver transplant. Transplantation has a 1-year survival rate of 90 percent and a 5-year survival rate of 70 to 80 percent.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)
2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3570
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.
22100 Gratiot Avenue
Eastpointe MI 48021-2227
American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases
1001 North Fairfax, Suite 400
Alexandria, VA 22314
American Liver Foundation
75 Maiden Lane, Suite 603
New York, NY 10038–4810
Toll-free: 1–800–GO–LIVER (465–4837) or 1–888–4HEP–USA (443–7872)
- Autoimmune Hepatitis. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). April 2008; http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/autoimmunehep/. Accessed 4/22/2011.
- Dugdale DC, Longstreth GF. Autoimmune hepatitis. MedlinePlus. November 23, 2010; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000245.htm. Accessed 4/22/2011.
- Wolf DC, Raghuraman UV. Autoimmune Hepatitis. eMedicine. February 23, 2011; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/172356-overview. Accessed 4/22/2011.